The 2022 World Cup in Qatar has not only been divisive since the moment of its announcement but will disrupt the football calendar more than any previous major tournament. This competition, unique in its timing and playing conditions, has drawn complaints from players and managers alike. Who could have imagined that hosting soccer’s biggest international tournament amid a jam-packed, multi-competition club schedule might not be received as a great idea?
At any rate, at Qatar 2022, France will be aiming to defend their crown, earned four years ago by beating Croatia in Russia. Interestingly, sportsbooks’ World Cup odds do not show Les Bleus as World Cup 2022 favorites.
True to form, not even game day scheduling has avoided disruption. Initially, Senegal vs. Netherlands was due to open the tournament on November 21, 2022, in Doha. However, on August 12, 2022, just 100 days before the start of the competition, the decision was taken by FIFA to start the World Cup one day earlier than planned.
Hosts Qatar now takes on Ecuador in the opening match of the 2022 Men’s Soccer World Cup on Sunday, November 20. The kick-off at the Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor is at 11 am ET. This change aligns with the tradition of the hosts or holders' involvement in the opening match. The tournament’s Opening Ceremony was also brought forward to the same day. It will take nearly a month to complete the tournament, with the final taking place on December 18, at 10 am ET, at Lusail Iconic Stadium.
Fixtures will be played at 5 am, 8 am, 11 am, and 2 pm (all ET) through the first two group stage matchdays, with games scheduled to take place simultaneously on each group’s third matchday. Fortunately, all three USMNT group match kick-offs are at the sensible hour of 2 pm (ET).
The USA’s campaign begins against Wales on the tournament's second day, November 21. After that, the Stars and Stripes will do battle against Gareth Southgate’s England on Black Friday (November 25) before wrapping group play against Iran on November 29. Should the US advance from the group, their Round of 16 fixture will occur on either December 3 (at 10 am ET) or December 4 (at 2 pm).
For the last time before the field swells to 44 teams in “North America 2026” (jointly held across Canada, Mexico, and the US), the 2022 World Cup will feature a 32-team field. Europe has 13 teams in the tournament, Latin America has six representatives, and Asia and Africa send five.
The 32 teams were split into four pots for the draw, creating eight four-team groups. The groups in which the 32 nations participating in the 2022 World Cup are:
Brazil is the World Cup 2022 favorite at major books, at odds hovering between +450 and +500. Defending champions France’s World Cup odds trail closely behind (+650 at SugarHouse is the best price), with Euro 2020 runners-up England rounding out the top three, at +700 with FanDuel and BetMGM.
Brazil has underwhelmed at recent World Cups, falling in the quarterfinals in three of the last four tournaments, with their lone semifinal run, at Brazil 2014, ending abruptly with a 7-1 humiliation at the hands of Germany. However, as the world's #1 ranked team and carried by the romanticism surrounding every Brazil side, it’s understandable that they are the World Cup 2022 favorites. But will the pressure be too much once again in Qatar? We think so and can’t see them sambaing to the final.
France, which has the deepest and most talented squad in world football right now (and often the most temperamental), disappointed at the Euros last summer, leaving Didier Deschamps with some difficult decisions. He will have to strike a delicate balance between showing loyalty to the old guard and introducing the next generation of French stars.
Armed with an improving squad and tournament experience, England’s World Cup odds represent the best value of the top three and are our World Cup 2022 pick. Of course, predicting a World Cup winner this far in advance is never easy. However, the Three Lions currently have greater stability in the squad than France and have shown the ability to cope with pressure. Gareth Southgate’s side boasts an array of attacking options, led by 2018 Golden Boot winner Harry Kane, and a stellar defense, which has conceded just seven goals in the side’s last 13 major tournament matches.
Argentina’s World Cup odds (+700 at FanDuel) place them as fourth-favorites in what is sure to be Lionel Messi’s final World Cup. Spain (+800 at PointsBet), Germany (+950 at FanDuel), Netherlands (+1200 at PointsBet), Belgium (+1200 at PointsBet), and Portugal (+1300 at FanDuel) make up the rest of the contender class, with a considerable drop-off coming, to Denmark (+3200 at FanDuel).
With World Cup odds priced between +10000 and +15000 to win the tournament, it’s safe to say the US are rank outsiders heading into the competition. Having failed even to qualify four years ago, simply making it out of the group would signal success for Gregg Berhalter’s team. In a group alongside England, Iran, and Wales, they’ve got a draw that will allow them to do it.
Winning Group B ahead of England is a big ask, but qualification for the knockout rounds is well within reach for the Stars and Stripes. They made it to the last 16 in 2010 and 2014 and have been eliminated in the group stage just three times in seven previous World Cup appearances.
The US is the second-highest ranked team in the group (#14), narrowly ahead of Wales (#19) and Iran (#23), and will come into the tournament in good form, with just three defeats in 19 matches since the start of September 2021.
We see the USMNT’s World Cup odds to qualify out of Group B and reach the knockouts, at +110 at FanDuel, as excellent value.
The Soccer World Cup begins on November 20, 2022, at the Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor. Qatar vs. Ecuador is the opening match. The kick-off is at 11 am ET.
France beat Croatia 4-2 at the Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow, to win the 2018 World Cup in Russia. The victory secured France's second World Cup title, following their triumph on home soil in 1998.
+650 at SugarHouse is the best price.
Brazil is currently the World Cup 2022 favorites, with their odds of winning ranging from +450 to +500 at the major sportsbooks.
The Premier League table’s top two names are unlikely to change in 2022-23 - though their order very well could. At the bottom, meanwhile, a couple of newly promoted sides will likely be fighting for their top-flight lives.
We saw surprising stumbles from a couple of the biggest names over opening weekend. Our EPL predictions for week 2 look at what's in store for the big boys in England's top flight.
Thinking about getting into soccer betting? Here's a handy guide that tells you everything you need to know to start.